Sunday, 13 September 2009

Refit For Broadmoor

Broadmoor Hospital in Crowthorne houses some of the UK's most dangerous and notorious criminal personalities (including the 'Yorkshire Ripper', Peter Sutcliffe, and the 'Stockwell Strangler', Kenneth Erskine), but the venerable Victorian institution has come under fire in more recent times as conditions have been deemed unsuitable for the treatment of patients.

An unusually high rate of suicide and a failure to protect those housed in the high security psychiatric unit was noted by the Quality Care Commission, who criticised 'a series of shortcomings' by operator West London Mental Health NHS Trust saying the facilities were 'unfit for use'.

Director of the Patients Association, Katherine Murphy, explained that the situation described in the report "is about as bad as it gets if you are a patient with mental health problems."

Chief executive SANE the mental health charity, Marjorie Wallace, said

"We are increasingly concerned about the familiar litany of failures and lack of supervision, which puts vulnerable people at risk and leads to preventable tragedies."
Meanwhile new CEO at the NHS trust Peter Cubbon reassured the public that the implementation of changes was being taken as a priority.

Bracknell Blog has been on the spot reporting on the challenges facing the institution.

Darren Bridgeman provides a detailed write-up of an investigation into the death of a fellow patient by human cannibal Peter Bryan, which concluded "a collective failure at all levels" was responsible for not preventing the incident.

He also covers the background to story, sympathetic to the problems of providing modern psychiatric care for 260 of the UK's most seriously mentally-ill patients in a Grade II listed building built in 1863. He notes how the trust is currently evaluating four different options for redevelopment.

And from other sources we learn what some of these system and regime changes will involve.

Kevin Murray, Clinical Director at Broadmoor, described the hiring of an extra ninety psychiatric nurses as a positive move:
"More nurses will mean the patients will be in a safer environment. There will be the same number of staff on a ward as usual but they will have fewer patients to supervise. This will enable staff to spend more time with patients and that will help improve relationships between patients and members of staff and it will improve safety within the hospital."
And Gamezine notes a Channel 4 report that Wii Fit gaming consoles will be provided for every ward in a bid to help patients take more exercise.
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